French Air Force chief in hot water over suspected use of attack jet for weekend trips

French Air Force chief in hot water over suspected use of attack jet for weekend trips
French Minister of Defense Florence Parly has ordered an inquiry into potential misuse of a military aircraft after reports emerged that a senior air force general routinely leased an Alpha light attack and trainer jet to fly home.

Richard Reboul, formally second-in-command of the French Air Force who has served as acting commander since May, faces harsh disciplinary action if the report published by French satirical magazine Canard Enchaîné on Wednesday proves to be accurate.

The magazine alleges that Reboul used a Dassault/Dornier AlphaJet attack jet and advance trainer aircraft a dozen times since August last year to travel from a flight school located in Bordeaux to Salon-de-Provence, a commune in southern France hosting an important air base. The general reportedly “leased” the training plane for purposes completely unrelated to his job, namely, to spend a weekend in his estate in Provence and then fly back.

In addition to this, Reboul is alleged to have gotten ahold of a six-person military transport plane along with its pilot and co-pilot for his personal needs, unspecified in the report.

Late Tuesday, the French Defense Ministry issued a statement saying that newly-appointed Minister of the Armed Forces Parly instructed the inspectors general of the armed forces to look into the reports and “verify the circumstances of the use of the air means, in the present case and more generally,” Le Monde cited the ministry as saying.

It further warned of potential repercussions for the general if the facts unearthed by Canard Enchaîné were corroborated by evidence.

“In light of the findings of the report, the minister will draw the necessary consequences, including disciplinary ones, if misuse of the means is proven,” the statement adds.

A separate internal probe initiated by General André Lanata, chief of staff of the French Air Force, has been underway since June 23, Air Force spokesman Olivier Celo told AFP.

Reboul was appointed to serve as second-in-command of the French Air Force in September 2016. Last month, he assumed the duties of former commander of the French Air Force General Serge Soulet after he passed away on May 21.